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Former Gators All-American Wes Chandler had 22 touchdown catches in his UF career.

Thursday November 21, 2013Wes Chandler to Serve as Celebrity Mr. Two Bits on Saturday

Former Gators All-American Wes Chandler had 22 touchdown catches in his UF career.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The trips back to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium have been rare in recent years.

When his nephew, former Gators receiver Dallas Baker, was at UF he made it back for a game. The last time he ran onto Florida Field to perform was his final game as a Gator, the 1977 contest against Florida State.

Wes Chandler is ready for his long-awaited return. He will be Florida's honorary "Mr. Two Bits" on Saturday when the Gators host Georgia Southern. Chandler, who will also be Florida’s SEC Living Legend at the league championship game in December, will be recognized during a first quarter timeout on Saturday.

He may be far removed from his time at UF, but the connection remains strong.

"I was excited [when asked], absolutely,'' Chandler said. “It's a real treat, an honor. Any time you have an award bestowed upon you or, more importantly, recognition from the school you went to, you wear those colors proud."

Those colors -- orange and blue -- are important to Chandler, a Florida native who grew up in New Smyrna Beach and now calls the San Francisco area home.

Before Percy Harvin, before Jacquez Green or Ike Hilliard or Reidel Anthony or Chris Doering or any other UF receiver you want to toss into the conversation over the last 35 years, there was Chandler.

He remains the highest-drafted receiver in UF history, taken third overall by the Saints in 1978. Of the 92 receptions he caught at UF from 1974-77 -- in a wishbone offense no less -- 22 went for touchdowns.

Chandler scored six more times on runs and returns. In the NFL Chandler's production soared, especially when he joined San Diego's "Air Coryell" offense in the 1980s directed by quarterback Dan Fouts.

Chandler's 129 yards receiving per game during the strike-shortened 1982 seasons remains an NFL record.

These days, Chandler is traveling the country as a businessman after more than two decades as a professional and college coach, including the 2012 season as Cal's receivers coach.

He's always maintained business interests away from football, including a celebrity events company and precious metals business in West Africa.

He is currently involved in a new endeavor that "I'm sure you will hear about it in two to three months,'' Chandler said. "That's one that really, really has had me busy.

"I need to dedicate and devote the necessary time that it takes to make this happen, and it's going to happen. I'm just so excited about it. I really am."

While we'll have to wait to find out what the 57-year-old Chandler has planned for the future, we get to see him in person Saturday as Mr. Two Bits.

Back to those colors.

When the Gators capped off their historic national championships in football and basketball during the 2006-07 school year, Chandler was an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns.

He would show up at work in Florida attire, which didn't exactly go over well in Buckeye Country considering that both of Florida's national titles came by beating Ohio State.

"I knew I was going to catch some flack because we're in the state of Ohio, but who cares,'' Chandler chuckles. "We turn around the same year and we beat them in basketball. They were looking at me out of the corner of their eyes."

On Saturday the eyes on Chandler will be much more welcoming.

He'll be back home.

"It's a big deal,'' he said. “There is nothing like college football. It packs so much emotion as opposed to the NFL, where it's a business. You carry it with you so far for so long."

 

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